JOANNE TURNER: KEEPING CUSTOMERS SATISFIED DURING THE CHRISTMAS RUSH
For retailers, the weeks leading up to Christmas can dictate what is seen as a successful year, or one deemed a failure. It is also a pivotal period where loyal customers can be won or indeed, lost. Creating an experience that leaves shoppers feeling satisfied once they have left the store will ensure they return again and recommend the brand to family and friends.
People management is a challenge that is heightened during these peak periods and it’s important that retailers have the resources in place to account for any significant increases in footfall. The worst-case scenario for brands is a customer abandoning their trolley due to lengthy lines at the checkout.
Here, Joanne Turner, head of marketing at queue management specialist Tensator provides some advice for retailers looking to maximise the retail queuing experience over the next few weeks.
Keep your customers occupied while they wait to be served
Psychologically, if a customer is distracted by something other than standing in the queue itself, the wait will seem a lot shorter. Providing activities or alternative attractions can be an effective way of achieving this – particularly for children who may find the process even more tedious. This might be in the form of in-queue merchandising or media screens engaging waiting customers in the latest offers or encouraging interactivity – these are simple ways to keep those waiting entertained.
The queue is also an ideal place to display last minute stocking fillers. WHSmith, for example, has reported sales uplifts of between 400% and 1000% for items merchandised in the queue.
Increase your staff numbers to come with the rise in footfall
It might seem obvious, but having a few extra members of staff on the shop floor is crucial to ensuring customers perceive the store as being managed efficiently. Not only will an increased amount of staff at checkouts speed up waiting times, it can also improve wayfinding and enhance the quality of customer service provided.
Put safety at the forefront of your queues
We’ve all seen the well-publicised floods of customers rushing through the doors of stores during sale seasons. While this showcases the enthusiasm of excited customers, these are potentially very dangerous and highlight the need for careful consideration when it comes to store layout.
When it comes to queue design, Tensabarriers are a great way of ensuring those waiting in line remain in order and also assist when it comes to wayfinding. Posts and belts can also be used to help minimise queue ‘cutting’ – one of the main irritants for those waiting in line. They also enable accessibility for all, with the lowest base on the market they are less of a trip hazard.
Ensure your staff are trained to cope with the rise in demand
A cohort of staff that is prepared for the pre-Christmas rush will be ready to accommodate numerous responsibilities depending on the amount of people in store at any one time. When it comes to the checkout queues, the ultimate aim for retailers should be to reduce service time – the amount of time taken for a customer to enter a queue to the point of leaving the store.
In addition to introducing ‘fast payment methods’ such as contactless and Apple Pay, it’s important that all stores have a protocol in place that can manage the flow of staff between the shop floor and checkouts, depending on the demand for cashiers.
Taking the added time to ensure adequate procedures are in place ahead of the Christmas rush will ensure customers feel valued, spend more and ultimately, want to return again in the future.
Further information on Tensator and its queue management and wayfinding solutions are available at www.tensatorgroup.com.